Category Archives: Heat Wave

A Final Peek Under The Hoops

Time to take the plastic off.

This pic shows kale on the left side.  My notes read ‘Vates Kale’, but I didn’t note the seed vender.  I like this kale.  A few carrots are in the very front right side.  The empty space after the carrots is where spinach was planted.  Under all 3 of my hoops this past winter, I had a real problem with aphids.  They, of course, never freeze out under the hoops – nothing freezes under the hoop.  A bit further back, with the red stems, are Detroit beets.  I don’t know if they will mature in a month – within a month I will be pulling out everything except some kale and chard so that I can plant my spring crop of squash and peppers.  These cool weather crops had their chance.  If the beets don’t mature their roots, I will at least be able to harvest the greens.

I am really having a problem trying to figure out how to grow under the hoop in Texas.  This past winter started out in October with a rough week or 2 of freezes, then it was very warm for a few months and winter finished with a few weeks of freezing weather.  This lack of consistency causes problems like early  bolting and stunting.  I’m going to have to think this thru for next winter.  I also learned this winter to NOT grow broccoli or cabbage under the hoop.  (The cabbage & broccoli grown outside of the hoops is doing great.) I also can’t grow spinach under the hoop.  I’ll also have to be more vigilant about the aphids.  Also, the cos lettuce didn’t need to be under the hoops – it didn’t do well.  I think that the main reason that I planted all of these things under the hoops was to protect them from rabbits.  Last fall the rabbits ate all of my lettuce and spinach.  This winter they didn’t even touch any of the cabbage or broccoli that was planted in the open.  The only rabbit issue I had was one blue berry plant eaten.

Some of this gorgeous kale is bolting and some isn’t.  While I like this kale, I don’t believe a few plants will be enough to save for seeds.  Also, I just don’t have the room to let this leaf crop sprout it’s seed heads – that takes a lot of space.
under the hoop

This is a close up of the kale and small beets.
under the hoop beets kale lettuce

There is no reason to show pics of the other 2 hoop garden beds – they aren’t this impressive.

Last winter this bed provided me a bountiful crop of chard that I spent weeks dehydrating in the food dryer.  Chard will be one of my main hoop crops next winter.

Again, my hoop garden is 5′ wide & 16′ long.  A 10′ length of gray plastic conduit fits perfectly from one bottom edge to the other, held in place by a 2′ section of 3/8″ rebar cut into 2′ sections with 12″ of each piece pounded into the ground.  I bought a $40 box of thick plastic.  The 100′ roll was cut into four 25′ sections.  The 12′ width fit perfectly over the hoops with a foot on each end resting on the ground, weighted down with old 2×4 pieces of lumber.  The extra 3 to 4′ of plastic on each end was gathered and weighed down with a few bricks or rocks.

I like the idea of the hoop gardens, but I need to rethink this and work it some other way next winter.

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One More ‘Return from Death’ Story, Basil This Time

I let basil growing in my smallest raised bed dry out during the heat of the summer.  The box didn’t have much organic matter in the soil, just mostly sand.  As such, nothing in that bed grew very well.  OK, the plants dried out, leaves dropped off and all that was left was the stems.   A week of rain came.  The basil recovered.  You can see the brown stems and green shoots growing out from 2 sides of the old branch.  Look at all those beautiful green leaves – they went into several batches of basil pesto.  Follow up the branch with the orange circles, and you can see the brown dried seed head.  All these beautiful green leaves are new from what I thought were dead plants.

basil regrowth

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Stunted Squash Plants

This spring, with the new garden not being finished on time, I planted my crops at least a month late, and some plants, like this zucchini, were planted weeks later.    The zucchini that I planted ‘only’ a month late grew into very large, healthy plants.  This even later zuch, along with all the yellow summer squash that I planted even later, never fully grew.   Interestingly, all of these super-late squash were stunted.   This 8 Ball did grow big enough to produce at least one fruit.  Look at all of those male bloom on this plant.

yellow edges on squash leaves

I am totally fascinated with these late plantings being stunted.  They just never grew big enough before the extreme heat and drought arrived.   This is a hybrid 8 Ball zucchini from Twilley seeds, usually a very strong and large plant.

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A Few Harvest Pics From the Abundance of June

Beautiful garden peppers:

beautiful garden peppers

A few 8 Ball zucchini, Obsisian zucchini, yellow crook neck squash and some peppers:

zucchini, crook neck and peppers

A bucket full of peppers, squash and cucumbers, all in a day’s pickings:

bucket of harvest pickings

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Morning Glories Are Indeed Glorious

Originally published winter 2011

These are Clark’s Heavenly Blue heirloom morning glories.

I planted these in early spring. They grow like crazy in the cooler spring weather, quickly flowering. Once the real summer weather kicks in – daytime highs in the 90s plus, they stop flowering. I waited some of June, all of July, August and September for the ‘cooler’ fall weather – all the while the morning glory vines grew, however there was not a single blue flower. Once the days ‘cooled’ to the upper 80s, the vines started producing an abundance of beautiful, big blue flowers.

These flowers have frozen out and this created a small problem – that being most of the flowers did not have enough time to fully mature their seeds.  Hopefully, I got enough good seeds for next year.

Morning glories on a   fence

And some more beautiful Morning Glories:

a collage of morning glories

Notice the extensive bloom network in the bottom picture.  These vines exploded in blooms once the 90+ degree weather finally broke.

I don’t have the time or space to waste on non-edible plants in my tiny garden, but I always plant morning glory vines around the garden and yard.

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A Pitiful Partial Harvest Of Winter Squash

Originally published late summer 2011

Here is a sample of 4 different squash.  The green one in the back ground is Butternut Rugoso Violino Gloria (c. moschata).  The larger one to the left might be a deformed Long Island Cheese (C. moschata).  The medium tan squash in the front middle is probably an Upper Ground Sweet Potato (c. moschata). They are scattered around the remains of the garden – the vines are 20 to 30 feet.  The tiny tan squash is the good, faithful Waltham Buttenut (c. moschata).  Always prolific.  I forgot to put a Seminole pumpkin in here.  It is also c. moschata. I have more squash to pick as I start to clear out the dying vines – just waiting for most of them to turn tan – indication that they are mature enough to be picked and keep for a few months.

Partial harvest of  winter squash

Seminole pumpkin was the most hardy of the 6 varieties of cucurbit moschata that I grew this season. The Long of Naples never produced fruit, neither did the Sucrine du Berry.  The Long Island Cheese may have produced that one fruit.  I only got one Rogosa Violina Gioria – and it might not have been mature enough to keep.  Texas just isn’t the place for most of these winter squash.  I think that I got several Upper Ground Sweet Potato squash – I see what I think are several of them.  I have several seminole pumpkin squash also.  Waltham Butternut has always been the best producer – probably because the vines are not too long and the fruit is small.  Just can’t get those large, beautiful squash out of this horrid, hot, droughty Texas weather.  Next year I am going to focus on Waltham Butternut and Seminole pumpkin.  Instead of playing with exotic squash, I am going for production.

It IS true that c. moschata is more resistant to squash bugs and immune to the evil squash vine borer.  I have seen very few squash bugs on the c. moschata.  The solid stems are of course immune to the borer.  Summer squash take the brunt of the hit from these 2 unwanted pests.  The squash bug is a stink bug with a hard shell and even birds don’t want to mess with them.  Their main predator is the gardener!!

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Spider Mites Made Worse By Excessive Heat

Originally published in late Summer of 2011

Spider mites have decimated the garden.  They started in the tomatoes.  (White flies were also a problem in tomatoes this year).  They spread to the squash and watermelons – but were harder on the watermelons.  Or, it could have been a virus that made those tomato leaves yellow speckled, then spread to the watermelons next to it.  Doesn’t matter now, all vegetative matter is dead or almost dead.  Spider mites are also on the Sweet Potatoes is the green house – they were treated with neem oil.  Sweet potato can take the heat and partial drought – I’m hoping to keep them alive until harvest time this fall.  Spider mites are particularly hard on the pole beans.  They slowly wiped out these Missouri pole beans, but didn’t do too much damage to the yard long green beans next to them.

Spider mites killed pole beans

I hadn’t had real problems with spider mites ever before, so they got ahead of me before I realized what was happening. Spraying with neem oil didn’t save these beans. A word of warning – Sevin will kill the bugs that feed on the mites – so if you diagnose spider mites – only use neem oil. Spider mites are NOT an insect, so Sevin won’t kill them. Neem oil and soap will.

I’ve had several new pests this year that I hadn’t had to battle before – spider mites and white flies. Neem oil seems to eventually kill off the white flies and hopefully will keep the sweet potatoes going until fall. Chinese long red beans are very susceptible to ants and their aphids – I have to constantly spray the ants and aphids. They will be back the next day on another plant. But those long red beans in stir fry is worth the effort of war.

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Rattlesnake Pole Beans

Originally published Summer 2011

I have found that rattlesnake pole beans seem to thrive the best in my garden environment.  They grow the fastest and mature the fastest.  I usually grow them for dry beans.  The pod has purple streaks running it’s length, so it doesn’t have the edible appeal that a plain old green bean does. They grow fast and produce prolifically.  When the summer drought hits, they slow down, but still grow.  When we get an occasional heavy summer rain, they go into another growth spurt.

Rattlesnake pole beans

I just love these pole beans. And, since beans are self-pollinating, you don’t have to worry about those pretty little lavender flowers crossing with any other beans in the garden.

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